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Mountaineers’ season ends with loss to Wake Forest in NIT

Junior+forward+TreVon+Spillers+slams+it+on+Wake+Forests+Andrew+Carr+March+20.+Spillers+scored+12+points+and+grabbed+nine+rebounds.
Emily Simpson
Junior forward Tre’Von Spillers slams it on Wake Forest’s Andrew Carr March 20. Spillers scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

App State made the trip down the mountain to face Wake Forest in Winston-Salem in the opening round of the NIT, falling 87-74.

“They made a bunch of plays, so credit to them,” said head coach Dustin Kerns.

Senior forward CJ Huntley led the team with 16 points and junior forward Tre’Von Spillers had 12 points and nine rebounds. 

The Demon Deacons opened the game with more intensity, going on a 7-2 to start the contest. The Black and Gold’s lone basket in the opening four minutes came on a Spillers dunk. 

The Mountaineers closed the gap in the next four minutes as Spillers scored eight straight points. He had 10 of App State’s first 13 points, with Huntley being the other scorer. 

Freshman guard Jordan Marsh came off the bench, and delivered a spark for the Mountaineers, scoring eight points in the opening half.

Both teams battled back and forth for the rest of the half, with Wake entering halftime with a 36-27 lead.

The Black and Gold struggled shooting the basketball, shooting 37% from the field and 8% from three. Executing in the half court was an issue for App State, leading to tough contested shots late in the shot clock. 

On defense, App State allowed the Demon Deacons to shoot 41% from the field. Wake Forest guard Kevin Miller scored 14 points in the first half, shooting 4-7 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line. 

Coming out of the break, both teams picked up where they left off with the two squads trading baskets. 

The Demon Deacons took a 41-33 lead with 17 minutes left before the Mountaineers rallied to bring the score within two with 14:17 on the clock. Some stops on defense and a couple threes from junior guard Terence Harcum allowed the Black and Gold to cut into the lead. 

After App State trailed 49-48, Wake Forest guard Cameron Hildreth scored six straight points to give the Demon Deacons a 57-50 lead with 10:13 remaining.

 Down the stretch, Wake Forest took control of the game with timely shot-making and execution on both ends of the court. They forced the Mountaineers into contested shots and disrupted their rhythm.

Wake cruised to a 87-76 victory, ending the Black and Gold’s historic season in the opening round of the NIT.

Officiating was questionable as Wake Forest shot 31 free throws compared to eight for the Mountaineers. 

“It was really disappointing,” Kerns said about the free throw discrepancy.  

Defense had been the Mountaineers’ calling card all season, but the Demon Deacons continued finding different ways to score and iced the game.

The Mountaineers finish the season 27-7, ending with the most wins in program history.

“A lot to be happy about,” said graduate student forward Donovan Gregory.

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About the Contributors
Ethan Smith
Ethan Smith, Sports Editor
Ethan Smith (he/him) is a senior journalism major, media studies minor. This is his third year writing for The Appalachian.
Emily Simpson
Emily Simpson, Associate Photo Editor
Emily Simpson (she/her) is a junior Commercial Photography major. This is her first year with The Appalachian.
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